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George Romney

Epithet: Artist (1734-1802)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: Romney was born in Beckside, Lancashire as the third son of John Romney and Anne Simpson. He was sent to school at Dendron, then apprenticed to his father's business at the age of eleven. He trained in art informally from the age of fifteen, later taking on a formal art apprenticeship at the age of twenty-one. In 1756 he married Mary Abbot, entering into a largely unhappy marriage that would last their entire lives. He stayed in Lancashire and worked on his artistic talent until 1762, when he left his wife and child to pursue fortune in London until 1799.

In 1763, Romney submitted his painting "The Death of General Wolfe" to the Royal Society of Arts competition, earning second place price of 50 guineas which was later reduced to 25 guineas on questionable grounds. Despite his relative success in London, he was never asked to join the Royal Academy, nor ever applied to join, extolling his beliefs that an artist could succeed without being a member. 1769 proved to be a breakthrough year for him, as he displayed the portait of Sir George Warren with the Free Society of Artists which was greatly admired and laid the foundations for future success.

By 1772 Romney was financially stable enough to travel to Italy, gaining an audience with the Pope through connections who allowed him to study the frescoes of Raphael. He spent two years abroad studying art before returning to London and being saddled with debt, as well as taking on his financially desitute brother. However his fortunes changed permanently when he was taken in by the Duke of Richmond and asked for many commissions, while also meeting Emma Hamilon who he used as his muse in over 60 paintings. In the summer of 1799, health broken, he returned to his wife after 40 years, whereupon she nursed him for another two years until his death.

Occupation / profession: Artist

Gender: Male

Date of birth: 1734

Date of death: 1802

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